The Brahma Purana

by G. P. Bhatt | 1955 | 243,464 words

This is the Brahma Purana in English (translation from Sanskrit), which is one of the eighteen Maha Puranas. The contents of this ancient Indian encyclopedic treatise include cosmology, genealogy (solar dynasty etc.), mythology, geology and Dharma (universal law of nature). The Brahma Purana is notable for its extenstive geological survey includin...

Chapter 70 - Doubts raised by sages

Lomaharṣaṇa said:

1. On hearing the words of Vyāsa, the sages of restrained sense-organs became satisfied, delighted and struck with wonder again and again.

The sages said:

2. Wonderful indeed are the attributes of the sub continent Bhārata mentioned by you. So also of the shrine named Śrīpuruṣa in the holy centre Puruṣottama.

3. O sage, the most excellent among eloquent ones, who will not be delighted and surprised on hearing about the excellent greatness of the shrine named Puruṣa?

4. We have a doubt in our hearts. It has been there for a long time. Excepting you, there is no one on the Earth to clarify that doubt.

5. O great sage, it is about the origin of Balarāma, Kṛṣṇa and Subhadrā on the Earth that we wish to ask. We would like to understand it thoroughly.

6. Why were the heroic Kṛṣṇa and Saṅkarṣaṇa (Balarāma) born in the house of Vasudeva? Why was she too born in that house there, O sage?

7-8. How did the terrible ordeal of a stay in the womb appeal to them? The womb that is sling and lubricious due to urine and faeces? It is painful, distressful and miserable. Why were they born in this mortal world that consists mostly of miseries? Though it is devoid of essence and very fickle like a watery bubble, yet it is very terrible and it causes hairs to stand on their ends.

9. O sage, the most excellent among the eloquent ones, recount to us in detail the activities that they pursued on being born on the Earth.

10-12. Mention their wonderful and superhuman story, how did the lord of Devas, the most excellent and intelligent one among Devas attain the state of Vāsudeva in the house of Vasudeva?

He left off the holy world of Devas surrounded by the immortal beings and adorned by meritorious persons and came over to the mortal world here.

Why did that leader of Devas and human beings, the unchanging source of origin of the Earth unite his divine soul with mortal bodies?

13-20. Alone, the lord makes the circle of human beings whirl without ailments. Why did that wielder of discus and ironclub decide to be born among human beings? It is Viṣṇu the lord who protects all living beings in the universe. Why did that lord come over to the Earth and carry on the activity of a cowherd?

He is the soul of Elements. He created and sustained the great elements. He is one whose glory is hidden in the womb. How was it that he was conceived in the womb by an ordinary women who walked about on the Earth? In his incarnation as the Dwarf at the request of Devas he won over three worlds by means of three paces. The excellent threefold path of the three aims of life (virtue, love and wealth) was immediately restored. He is the lord who, at the hour of dissolution, converts the universe into an aquatic body and drinks it up. He makes the world a vast sheet of water and lies therein with his form partly manifest and partly unmanifest.

He is the ancient lord, the soul of ancient beings, the destroyer of enemies. He assumed the form of a Boar. By the tip of his curved fangs, he lifted up the Earth.

He is the most excellent among Devas, who on behalf of Indra conquers the three worlds and gave it over to Devas as their realm.

He assumed the form of a lion and split it further into two (i.e. half man, half lion). The Daitya of great prowess, Hiraṇyakaśipu was killed by him.

21-26. Formerly, lord Hari became the Aurva and Saṃvartaka fires (submarine fire and fire of dissolution). Stationed in the nether regions he drank the watery essence of the ocean.

In every Yuga they call him Brahman with a thousand feet, with a thousand rays. They call him the lord who bestows thousands, the lord with a thousand heads.

In his umbilicus a lotus grew up. It was the abode of Brahmā. It was a lotus of molten gold in the vast sheet of water, in the world of serpents.

In the war called Tārakāmaya,[1] many Daityas were killed by him with the weapons presided over by Devas.

The arrogant demon Kālanemi[2] was struck down by the lord seated on Garuḍa.

He adopts the perpetual Yoga and lies down at the northern end of the milky ocean. He envelops everything in great darkness.

27-28. Aditi conceived the ancient lord in her divine womb. Indra who was challenged by Daityas was held in womb by Aditi and saved.

By his Yogic powers he created regions and made Daityas stay there embedded in waters. After creating Devas and the leaders of Devas he made Indra their lord.

29-30. By Gārhapatya and Anvāhārya rites he created the material essential for Yajñas while his hand was hanging downwards, Āhavanīya fire, Vedas, initiation, sacrificial twig, Prokṣaṇīya vesssel, Sruva ladle, Avabhṛtha, and the persons partaking of their shares in havya.

31-33. He made Devas the partakers of Havya and Pitṛs the partakers of Kavya. He assigned shares to them in the sacrificial rites and laid down rules regarding Yajña. Vessels, monetary gifts, initiation, Caru offerings, Ulūkhalas (Mortars) sacrificial post, Soma juice, Pavitras (ringlike loops made of Kuśa grass), paridhis (sacrificial sticks placed round the fire), articles required for sacrifice such as Camasas, all these the lord created. He classified Sadasyas (audience) and Yajamānas (performers of Sacrifice); He made the various excellent sacrifices such as Medhā etc.

34. He divided sacrifices according to Yugas and the power (of endurance) of the people. The rites of Parameṣṭhin were also classified in accordance with Yugas.

35-38. He created some units of the time such as Kṣaṇas, Nimeṣas, Kāṣṭhās and Kalās. He created three forms of time past, present, future. He created Muhūrtas, Tithis (days of the lunar fortnight), months, days, years and seasons. The various groups of time, units, three types of magnitude (length, breadth, bright), span of life, centres (?) increase, characteristics, beauty of form—all these were created by the lord. Three worlds, three Devas, three lores, three fires, three time factors (past, present, future), three holy rites, three castes and three Guṇas were created by him. Formerly, all the worlds were created by that lord of infinite activities. He is present in all living beings in the form of attributes.

39-40. The lord diverts himself through the contact of sense-organs of men. He is the leader of to-and-fro travel. He is the creator and overlord. He is the goal of those who possess virtue. He is the non-goal of persons of sinful rites. He is the origin of division of four castes. He is the custodian of division of four castes.

41-44. He is one who knows the fourfold division of lores. He is the seat of support for the four divisions of society, four stages of life. He is the intervening space between the quarters, Earth, wind and fire. He is luminary in the forms of sun and moon. He is the lord of Yugas. He walks about at night. He is the greatest luminary; he is (mentioned) as the greatest penance; they call him the greatest without anyone else greater than himself; he is the great Supreme soul. He is the lord of sons of Aditi, the lord is the annihilator of Daityas. He is the destroyer during the concluding days of yugas. He is the smiter of the destroyers of worlds: he is the bridge of bridges of worlds; he is the holiest of all holy rites.

45. He is the deity worthy of being known unto the Vedic scholars; he is the greatest lord among those who are sources of origin; among the gentle he is Soma; among those of fiery refulgence he is fire.

46. He is one who is the overlord of Indra; he is the penance of those who perform penance; he is the humility of those whose behaviour is conditioned by statesmanship, he is the brilliant splendour of those who are refulgent.

47-48. He is the physical form of those who deserve physical forms; he is the goal of those who deserve goal.

The wind originates from Ether, fire originates from wind (that is the vital breath) (?), the vital breath originates from heaven. The lord, (the destroyer of Madhu) is fire and vital breath. From juice originates blood and flesh originates from blood.

49. Tat is produced from flesh; bone is produced from fat; marrow is generated from bone and semen is produced from marrow.

50-56. Foetus is evolved out of semen, due to that activity at the root of which is Rasa (juice). There the first part is that of waters. It is called heap pertaining to the moon. The second heap should be understood to have been born of the heat of the womb (?) One should know that the semen is of the nature of the moon; and the menstrual blood is of the nature of fìre. Emotional fervour follows the Rasa. The moon and fire are present in the seed (?). The semen comes under the category of Kapha (Phlegm) and the menstrual blood in the category of Pitta (bile). The heart is the place of the phlegm and the bile is established in umbilicus. The heat is in the middle of the body and it is remembered as the seat of the mind. The place in between the umbilicus and belly (?) is the place where fire-god is present. The mind is the lord of subject. The phlegm is thought of as the moon. The bile is fire. Thus the universe is of the nature of fire and moon. When the foetus has thus begun to function and when it increases in size like a lump of flesh, the wind enters the body and comes in contact with the greatest Ātman. It becomes split into fire within the body and grows in size.

57-63. The winds are Prāṇa, Apāna, Samāna, Udāna and Vyāna. Prāṇa moves round increasing the great Ātman (?) Apāna increases the hinder body; Udāna (increases) half of the embodied soul (?); Vyāna is so called because it pervades the body. The Samāna makes it return. Then the elements are attained and they become perceptible to the sense-organs. The fìve elements are Earth, wind, firmament, waters and fire.

The Elements permeating the sense-organs create their respective parts (in the body). They say that the mass body pertains to Earth; Vital breath is the part of air; pores and hollow cavities originate from firmament; exudations function from watery element. Eyes and the warmth of the body is the fiery element. The guide of all these is the mind.

The villages and territories function through the power of the lord. Puruṣa, the lord, creates the eternal worlds.

The sages said:

Why did Viṣṇu attain the form of a man in this mortal world O brahmin, this is our doubt. It gives us a great surprise.

64-65. How did the goal of those who deserve the goal take up the human body? Viṣṇu is mentioned by Devas and Daityas as a great wonder. O great sage, tell us the wonderful story of the origin of Viṣṇu whose splendour is unmeasured and whose strength and prowess are well known.

66-69. May the real principle of Viṣṇu who is a great miracle on account of his activities, be mentioned. How did that lord, the dispeller of the agony of Devas, Puruṣottama (take birth as a human being)? The lord of the universe is omnipresent; he is the great lord of all the worlds; he is the lord and cause of creation, sustenance and annihilation; he is the cause of happiness of everyone; he is inexhaustible, permanent, infinite. He is devoid of both decline and increase. He is unsmeared, free from attributes, subtle unafflicted and unsullied. He is free from all conditioning factors. He is stabilised in his sole form of Existence. He undergoes no change or transformation; he is the eternal, perpetual great soul. He is unmoving and all-pervading. He is devoid of impurities. He is ever satisfied and he has none to support him.

70-75. In the Kṛta Yuga the state of being Viṣṇu and Hari is heard of; among Devas, he has the state of Vaikuṇṭha and among mortals he has the state of Kṛṣṇa.

We wish to hear about the inscrutable way of activities of this lord forever, both past and future. The lord is unmanifest but his symbols are clearly manifest. Nārāyaṇa is the infinite Ātman. He is the unchanging source of origin. Hari the eternal lord became Nārāyaṇa, Brahmā, Indra, Rudra, Dharma, Śukra and Bṛhaspati. Formerly, this lord in the form of Ātman of Pradhāna created Brahmā. That primordial Puruṣa created Prajāpatis in the previous Kalpa. Thus the lord Viṣṇu is the over-lord of lords of all the worlds. Why, then, did Hari go to the family of Yadus in the mortal world?

Footnotes and references:


Tārakāmaya: a war which arose in consequence of Soma (Moon) having carried off Tārā, the wife of Bṛhaspati.


A great asura, son of Virocana and grandson of Hiraṇyakaśipu.

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